It is time to fulfill a “Bucket List” trip to South America starting in the beautiful country of Peru to visit the ruins from the Inca Empire. Our plan is a land tour of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu then take a cruise from Santiago, Chile down around Cape Horn and out to the Falkland Islands returning to Buenos Aires. We then will fly over to see the Iguazzu Falls from both the Brazil and Argentine sides.
We are traveling with Janice’s brother and wife Stephen and Marilyn Roberts. With some amusing changes to air flights starting out, we headed for Orlando. We live 90 minutes from Orlando and Delta sent us a text that informed us our flight to catch the Lima connection in Atlanta, was delayed and would give us 30 minutes between flights. We live 30 minutes from Daytona Beach and found 2 flights that would put us in Atlanta with plenty of time to make the connection. Delta made the change for us and we made the connection.
We arrived in Lima on time, midnight. With luggage, passing thru customs we made the transfer to our hotel at two in the morning Fortunately Lima is the same time zone as our home in Florida.
Peru has a population of about 33 million people with one third living in Lima and the surrounding areas. After breakfast we headed out to visit downtown Lima. , We took an Uber from the hotel, the traffic is NUTS!! It took us about 30 minutes. and the Uber fair was only $5.00 US. We arrived at the main square, Plaza Mayor. It was noon and we were in front of the Presidential Palace, by total luck it was time for the changing of the guard. There were many things to see, but little knowledge about what was what.
The answer to that problem was solved when a young man stopped and offered us a “free tour”! With our great experiences with these tours in Europe we said yes! Our guide was Alejandro Ordonez and he was fantastic. “Free” means we work for tips, great value!
We started in Plaza Mayor where it was proclaimed, in 1821, the Act of Independence of Peru. It is surrounded by the Palace by Government, the Municipality of Lima, the Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace.
The square represented Inca’s center of government for the Lima area until they were conquered by Spain’s Francisco Pizarro around 1532. The Inca temples were destroyed and the Spaniards build catholic churches and cathedrals. where he explained the surrounding buildings. Pizarro established Lima as the capital of the vice royalty that extended from what is currently Panama down thru Peru.
“The Presidents Palace”, houses the main offices of government and is home to the President of Peru.. The palace is surrounded by a large high fence, well protected The main cathedral of Lima is used only for major events, such as the inauguration of the president. Pope Francis had just been to Peru and said Mass at the cathedral. The Archbishop’s residence is next to the cathedral. 85% of the Peruvian population is Roman Catholic. Another important statistic is 30 percent of Peruvians are Inca and while most are Catholic they also still believe is some the of Mother Earth philosophies.
On the other side of Playa Mayor are local government buildings. As you look at the Peru flag, white and red strips with the coat of arms. the coat of arms on the flag can only be flown on government buildings, all other flags have just the red and white, We walked a few blocks to the Church of Merced named for The Virgin of the Mercedes who is the patron of the Arms of the nation. The church was constructed in the 18th century. The church is beautiful both inside and out and gives an appreciation for the splendor of the architecture of the time. The church is full of works of art there is an emphasis on the greater altar in honor to the Virgin of Mercedes.
We walked through the local postal station with many stalls to buy gifts for shipping and came upon a local famous bar with a great story called Cardano.
This establishment opened years ago and the original owner hired 5 street boys to work for him, now generations later the families of these boys own and operate Cardano, very successfully and hire orphans that live across the street, not forgetting where they came from.
We walked up to the San Francisco Church with the most extensive series of catacombs, the largest outside Paris. A block away was a city park, just outside the “old city wall” There was a great sense of humor about the location as you come upon a 90 year old monument to Francisco Pizarro on horseback with only one hoof up which means he died of wounds. The statue had been moved a number of times over the last 90 years and the population voted to move him outside the old wall. As the Spanish Conqueror he is not a popular man!
Our last stop was to try a Pisco Sour at a small stand, we were instructed on how the drinks is made. Pisco is made from grapes and qualifies as FIREWATER! It is 45% alcohol and is mixed in equal parts with simple sugar, lime juice and Pisco with a dash of bitters after the drink is poured. Two of these and goodnight.
The tour was about 2 hours and Alejandro Ordonez was fantastic. If you are planning a trip to Lima, here is his email firstname.lastname@example.org. He has started a small company and would be happy to give a tour.
It was a wonderful day.